We all approach our work from a different perspective. It’s one of the many reasons why a diverse workforce is a powerful workforce – our unique cultures, interests and capabilities can work together harmoniously to balance out our differences as individuals. And like other economies of scale, strength to strength, everyone benefits.
What is Neurodiversity?
Despite our cultural and personal differences, most of us still think the same way. Broadly speaking, we’re neurotypical, meaning, our brains process information the same way. In the workplace, this means that many of us can take our understanding for granted – we throw around information without much regard for its interpretation.
What about those who think differently? Neurodiversity relates to the diversity of individuals who are “neurodivergent”, such as those with Autism, Aspergers, ADHD, Dyspraxia or Dyslexia.
So, with that in mind, why is it important to support neurodiversity? And if you’re a business owner or hiring manager, why should you hire someone who is Neurodivergent?
5. They are often happiest in positions that are hard to fill
A lot of neurodivergent people are happiest in positions that many of us lack the capability to stay focused on. Whether it’s a specialism or a role that is too methodical and repetitive for others, neurodivergent individuals can provide value where it’s needed most – the areas that your business is lacking.
4. They’re highly talented – and not always in the ways you might think
Old stereotypes die hard and neurodivergent people are too often stereotyped. Autism for instance, has been closely linked to skill in mathematics or arithmetic. Although it’s certainly true that there are links between systematic thinking and autism, what’s more noticeable is that Autistic people are often intensely interested in one specific subject matter – which can be anything.
…and when this interest aligns with your business model, then it’s a win-win. You get an excellent industry specialist for your company, who is highly knowledgeable and skilled. And you also have someone in your employ who is very happy with the position they are working in. Which, in turn means…
3. They can be very loyal employees
Everyone is taking a risk when making the leap from one company to another. Will the culture be the same? What are the people like? Will there be as much opportunity for me to progress? The risk of moving may not be worth the reward but when you are neurodivergent, the risk can be even greater.
It’s clear that a lot of businesses still have a lot to do to bring neurodiversity into the workplace (in the UK only 6.6% of those with learning disabilities are in paid employment) and this can be a concern for people who need to consider the support they will receive. Will I be supported in the right way? Do they understand how I work?
When neurodivergent employees are happy at work, with the right kind of support, they tend to stay loyal and stay put.
On top of that, timekeeping plays a huge role in the lives of many neurodivergent people. Autistic people, for instance, are often bound by structure and routine, so sticking to a work schedule with set daily patterns works well for them.
1. It encourages openness from your existing employees
Having neurodivergent individuals in the workplace will help to raise awareness of Neurodiversity in general. But as an example, consider someone already in your employ, who is newly diagnosed with ADHD.
Overcoming the stigma and speaking to your employer about this for the first time, can be a daunting task. And all too often, this is so daunting that many choose to stay silent, foregoing any workplace adjustments that could make them happier and more productive employees.
For everyone involved, it’s important to be open. When you employ openly neurodivergent people, neurodivergence becomes normalised in your internal culture. It gets seen as more of a variation, than a disablement, making it much easier for everyone to talk about.
The HRC HR recruitment team is celebrating diversity of all kinds on our company blog this month.